Another 21 people were arrested outside the controversial Crestwood Midstream gas storage facility in upstate New York on Wednesday, bringing the total number of arrests since the We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign began seven months ago up to 272.
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox, whose documentary Gasland focuses on communities affected by fracking, was among those arrested during the human blockade.
"I'm here to support my friends and my community who are protecting Seneca Lake from underground gas storage," Fox said in a statement, noting that Crestwood's methane gas storage expansion project, which would see vast quantities of methane stored underground in questionably sound salt caverns, is situated in an "incredibly important location."
Seneca Lake is the largest of New York's Finger Lakes, providing drinking water for 100,000 people, and supporting local distilleries, wineries, breweries, and agriculture.
"I'm here primarily though because this is a fracking site," Fox continued.
As We Are Seneca Lake has repeatedly pointed out, Texas-based Crestwood has indicated that it intends to make Seneca Lake the gas storage and transportation hub for the northeast, as part of the gas industry's planned expansion of infrastructure across the region. Though New York recently banned the dangerous practice of hydraulic fracturing, Crestwood opponents are concerned that this infrastructure expansion would turn the area into a "gas station for fracking."
"We have to stop fracking all across America, wherever it is going to be," Fox added, before taking aim at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which approved Crestwood's project last October in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake.
FERC, Fox charged, "is really acting like a subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry masquerading as a government agency. FERC has to be overhauled. FERC is a disaster…So today is very important because it is a national moment." The protesters have a "very clear message," he concluded. "We want renewable energy, and not these kinds of crazy projects."
To that end, Renovus Solar—a local renewable energy company—set up an outdoor "help wanted" desk directly outside of Crestwood's gates during the demonstration.
"This gas storage facility threatens the community character and the economy of the entire region," said Renovus CEO Joe Sliker in advance of Wednesday's action. "In contrast, the solar industry complements the existing, thriving and growing winery and tourism industries. Solar is cleaner, safer, and a more prosperous path forth for families and even for all of the Crestwood employees."
Sliker was also arrested Wednesday.
In this video, Fox speaks about his participation in the demonstration:
Fox also put together this short documentary, which premiered exclusively at the Daily Beast on Wednesday—a call to action from him and fracking activist Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author who has been at the forefront of the We Are Seneca Lake campaign: